16 July 2012

Revelation 1:1-8

"Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. " (vv. 4-6)


A brief introduction to John's Revelation is probably helpful for those unfamiliar with apocalyptic writing. It is poetic, visionary, expressing deep truths through symbolism and images; so to treat it literally goes against the spirit of John's imagination. The Revelation of John is not fantasy, but a book of unveiling the deep mysteries of God's plan for the world, of proclaiming Christ as the Lord of history, of rejoicing in the victory of Christ over evil when so much in everyday life appears to give a different message. The future is full of hope.

Therefore, as we enter into the first few verses of Revelation, we do so with both emotion and intellect. Verse 1 clearly tells us not only that Jesus is the subject and source of John's writing, but also that things will happen "soon". Be ready. This is an urgent piece of writing for the seven churches of Asia (what is now known as western Turkey), but it is no less urgent for readers today to respond appropriately, as the prophecy about Jesus Christ unfolds.

Verse 3 opens with the word "blessed", the first of seven beatitudes in Revelation, the same number as the churches specifically addressed, and a number used at different times in this book (spirits, trumpets, bowls, seals, etc); the number seven stands for completion or wholeness in Revelation.

Verses 4 to 7 introduce the reader (or listener) to the majestic poetry of introducing the triune God and God's eternal nature - "who is and who was and who is to come". If we have become dull to this extraordinary understanding of God, try reading it again as though for the first time and experience the 'wow' factor! Verse 8 repeats this wonderful truth, with another word picture - that God is incomparable, Alpha and Omega, the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. But before that, in verse 7, we are introduced to the prophecy of the manner and nature of Jesus' victorious, if uncomfortable, return. Quite a start to the book!

To Ponder

  • When did you last have a 'wow' moment about the greatness of God?
  • If you shared your 'wow' moment with someone else, how would you express it verbally? Or in what way would you write it down?

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the vice-president of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.